food

Extension EFNEP Programming Positively Impacts Participants

Heather and a volunteer in their masksOur Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) shifted during the pandemic, just as everyone did. Last summer I had the opportunity to work with Bristol and New Britain HRA programs teaching their summer youth employment program. Their Program Director asked me to create a five-week virtual class, with 16 hours’ worth of work per week for their students. We had 20 students on each program. The program started three weeks after I received the request and I had to quickly think about how to best teach EFNEP nutrition education virtually to teenagers!
I was lucky to have a UConn student intern, Autumn Blasi, to help with the program! Although we never met in person, we worked together virtually to create a one of kind program!
I learned and used  Google classroom to create meaningful lessons for students. Each week students had to watch videos,  research, and complete project-based assignments. Students had to photograph their gardens each week to show progress. Students researched how to do different exercises and had to create beginners’ guides. Every week we had a virtual WebEx class.
Each week of the EFNEP/HRA program was theme-based on the growth of a plant. Week one was seeds and roots, week two was stems, week three was leaves, week four was flowers, week five was fruits and vegetables. Each week students had to find foods and recipes based on the week’s theme. They also had to research and report on nutrient and calorie content, selection, and storage of foods from the weeks theme.  I decided to do three “distribution” days every other week, that gave the students the tools to do hands-on, project-based learning at home.  I also divided the program into four concentration areas: gardening, nutrition, fitness, and future self with four hours of work in each. We had the students create SMART goals for each concentration area. Students had to photograph their gardens each week to show progress. Students researched how to do different exercises and had to create beginners’ guides. Every week we had four separate virtual WebEx classes with different groups of students. On distribution weeks we had a hands-on virtual class where we made recipes together.
In the beginning of the process I thought students would want connection to other students and tried to create group projects. I also thought students would want to be “seen” through the process, but they usually did not want to have their camera on. It was always their choice! It seemed that they liked the affirmation of the grading process best. They strived to do the work and wanted to make sure I SAW it. They were polite and engaged and asked for more work! They would ask for the  next weeks work if they finished the present weeks work. They started to become more confident and comfortable with the process over the last weeks. I  learned a lot during the process. I am grateful for the project!
On week one, we scheduled a safe, socially distanced distribution to students. Each student received a “EFNEP cooking kit”- with a meat thermometer, measuring cups, recipe books, and an insulated grocery bag. They also received a “container pizza garden”- students had a chance to identify each plant and plant their containers, it was like 40 – 10 minute lessons from afar! These distribution were done in the community at two different locations.
On week three we distributed the ingredients for overnight oats, and a fear factor food (spinach) to do our online recipe together. We had many technical difficulties that day and our intern stepped in to “show” the recipe because I lost video! We had the students “use your oats again,” and use your fear factor food and post the pictures. The students did an amazing job!
On week five we distributed prizes and the ingredients for our last WebEx virtual recipe, ” Salsa Pasta.” I had hoped to use the vegetables from the student’s container gardens, but the plants the agency provided were very small. I had to replace some students’ plants during the program due to critters eating them! This was my most successful video and audio! I finally figured out how to just use my office for the recipe. I made the recipe four times – two groups on Wednesday and two groups on Thursday. I also gave students other ways to make the recipe into soup and macaroni and cheese.
I heard from parents who said they benefitted from the class, in addition to their child. Especially downloading a step tracker and food diary app. They liked the SMART goals and saw improvement in some of their children’s behavior and confidence.
Our student intern, Autumn added so much to the program! She added assignments for the students on body image, diabetes, how to dress for an interview, and critiquing nutrition information on social media.
Article by Heather Pease, UConn EFNEP Educator

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

banner of Extension programs

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

UConn Extension is seeking applicants for a full-time (11-month), non-tenure track Assistant/Associate Extension Educator, primarily based at the Fairfield County Extension Office in Bethel, CT. Extension Educators are community-based faculty who make a difference in communities by connecting community needs with university resources. Position level/rank will be commensurate with experience working with Extension. The successful candidate shall create an active 4-H youth development program with a focus on STEM, food, and agricultural literacy.

More information and application instructions are available at s.uconn.edu/urban4-hposition

#jobs #uconn #youthdevelopment #4h #agriculture #food

Educator Spotlight: Indu Upadhyaya

Supporting Farmers, Businesses, Students and Communities

Indu
Photo: Kevin Noonan

With positive vision and great ambition, Indu Upadhyaya joined UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources in June 2019 as an Assistant Extension Food Safety Educator. Indu obtained her Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (equivalent to DVM) and a Master’s degree in Veterinary Biochemistry from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research in Pondicherry, India.

After working as a practicing veterinarian in India for a year, she joined UConn to pursue her PhD from the Department of Animal Science focusing on poultry microbiology and safety.

After completing her PhD, Indu moved to the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, Fayetteville, Arkansas as a postdoctoral associate, working in collaboration with the USDA-ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit.

Before returning to UConn as a faculty member, Indu worked as an Assistant Professor in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Tech University for one year, where she led a collaborative research program in poultry and fresh produce safety. She also taught two upper-level undergraduate courses in poultry science and facilitated several outreach activities and recruitment drives in Tennessee.

“As I approach completion of two years in my current role, I feel respected and valued in my department and in the college community.” Indu says. “The majority of my work so far has focused on training Connecticut’s growers and producers to comply with the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), a part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that went into effect in 2016. I am also leading outreach efforts in several USDA, NE-SARE and CPS grants and look forward to contributing to them.”

Indu has conducted other trainings including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) training for meat and poultry producers. These provide the framework for monitoring the total food system, from harvesting to consumption, to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Indu is working alongside extension educators in the Northeast to conduct successful trainings for producers and growers. Working closely with Diane Hirsch, an Emeritus Extension Educator for Food Safety, has made for a smooth transition. With 2020 throwing curveballs for many of us, it did not dampen UConn Extension training programs including Food Safety.

“We have successfully completed multiple farmer trainings using remote learning,” Indu says. “This includes the Produce Safety Alliance Grower training (three courses with 52 trainees) and a, three-day, Meat and Poultry HACCP training (17 participants). I have also continued farm visits during the pandemic following CDC guidelines. Various online platforms have helped me to serve the Connecticut community by remote consultation on various food safety and handling practices.”

Indu has been awarded a Hatch-Multistate Hatch grant as lead PI for mitigating the food safety risks associated with fresh produce production and is a co-PI on several USDA-NIFA, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education grants.

However, the biggest highlight for her in collaboration with UConn CAHNR colleagues, is a $10 million federal grant to improve sustainable poultry production globally. The USDA-NIFA funded project is developing an integrated and sustainable program for enhancing the viability of antibiotic-restricted broiler production in the poultry industry. The project launched in September of 2020 and focuses on a systems approach integrating bird health, human health, and environmental remediations to improve the sustainability of antibiotic restricted poultry production.

As a critical element in this grant, Indu is focusing on poultry outreach for both consumers and stakeholders to educate them on interventions and sustainable methods of production. She will conduct workshops, train-the-trainer programs and on-farm demonstrations to disseminate the results of the research objectives, so the stakeholders can implement more sustainable production practices.

“While our communities face ever evolving and serious challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, associated financial difficulties and health risks, I will continue to support farmers, small business owners, students and other members of the community through research, trainings and consultation in the state, region and nationally.”

Article by MacKenzie White

Highlights of Extension Report

Committed to a Sustainable Future

Highlights of Extension report cover with blue bars and photos of agriculture, health, and sustainabilityConnecticut has faced challenges related to sustainable landscapes, food and agriculture, health, and the climate for generations. As problems are solved, new issues arise. Our educators faced the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and pivoted programs to offer life transfor­mative education despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Programming moved to virtual environ­ments through online certificate programs, virtual field days, WebEx meetings, and YouTube videos. Our educators created and released 318 new videos on YouTube. These videos reached 305,200 people and had 39,501 viewers that watched 1,200 hours of Extension instruction.

One of every nine Connecticut residents struggled with food insecurity before COVID-19. For many individuals and families, challenges surrounding food inse­curity increased when the pandemic arrived and continued throughout 2020. The stress associated with food insecurity challenges one of the most basic human needs and deepens income and health disparities.

UConn Extension programs addressed the food insecurity challenges that our community members are facing due to COVID-19. Educators coordinated dairy foods donations to help address food inse­curity challenges—facilitating the donation of over 160,000 pounds of dairy products statewide.

Extension works collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions that improve our communities. We serve thousands of people every year. Our work is in every town and city of the state and the broader impacts make Connecticut a better place to live for all of us.

The human, environmental, and agricul­tural issues that we face change. The needs of our residents’ change. Our commitment to providing life transformative education remains steadfast.

Read the report at s.uconn.edu/extensionhighlights.

‘Completely Connecticut Agriculture’ Explores the Creativity and Resilience of Connecticut Farmers

Alyson Schnedier, Jon Russo and Zach Duda with words Completely Connecticut Agriculture over the photoIt’s easy to take our food supply for granted while strolling through the abundant aisles of a grocery store. We do not often consider how our food gets to the store or where it comes from. A group of students in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) is bridging the communication gap between agriculture and consumers in a new documentary film, “Completely Connecticut Agriculture.”

Zachary Duda, Jonathan Russo, and Alyson Schneider are agricultural advocates and vocalize the importance of the industry while inspiring others to do the same. All three are CAHNR Agriculture and Natural Resources majors, graduating in May. The students met as high school agriscience students, and later served together as state officers in the Connecticut FFA Association. The idea for the documentary about Connecticut agriculture formed while they were state officers.

Read more or watch the documentary online.

UConn EFNEP Celebrates National Nutrition Month

vegetables on a white dinner plateMarch is National Nutrition Month! This past year has proven that nutrition and health are more important to all of us than ever. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is UConn Extension’s outreach nutrition program in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). Since EFNEP’s inception as a USDA demonstration program in 1968, community educators work with low-income, limited resource families with children to learn how to food shop, prepare and eat more healthily as well as increase physical activity.

National Nutrition Month is a natural connection for EFNEP’s year round healthy lifestyle education. Designated in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this promotion began as a weeklong campaign to promote the profession as well as to communicate nutrition messages to the public. As a result of growing consumer interest, there was a transition to month long event in 1980. Each year a theme is chosen to embody health through nutrition and physical activity.

This year’s theme is Personalize Your Plate because everyone is unique in regard to body type, goals, cultural background, taste preferences and experiences. During this unprecedented past year, EFNEP has pivoted along with the rest of the world to social media for connection and engagement with friends, family and acquaintances. Through the EFNEP Facebook page and Extension Instagram and website, messages have included recipes, video short talks and cooking demonstrations to highlight how to Personalize Your Plate. Join us on social media and our websites to learn more about nutrition and healthy lifestyle education.

National Nutrition Month Video Topics:

March is National Nutrition Month: English https://youtu.be/b-nDAgkU9ks
                                                        Spanish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GpfOweLl-s
What is EFNEP: English https://youtu.be/9NeSq0Tk2es
                           Spanish https://youtu.be/fRh7QoiyX3Q
                           Spanish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGE3HrSJ30Y&feature=youtu.be

Article by Umekia R. Taylor, MS, RDN, CDN; UConn Educator/EFNEP Supervisor

Reference

Denny S. National nutrition month: a brief history. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106 (3):365-366.

FoodCorps Service Member Positions

As a FoodCorps service member you will teach students in the classroom and garden, but you will also learn skills that will help you grow professionally and personally. Apply to serve at www.foodcorps.org/apply
What is FoodCorps?
What will you do as a service member?
Click here to learn more.
Click here to view position descriptions.

What is Extension – New Video Released

UConn Extension connects thousands of people across Connecticut and beyond each year, with the research and resources of the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. We are comprised of more than 100 educators and a vast network of volunteers. UConn Extension works collaboratively to build more resilient communities through educational initiatives aimed to cultivate a sustainable future and develop tomorrow’s leaders. The work of UConn Extension connects communities and individuals to help make Connecticut a better place to live, and a better place for future generations.

UConn Extension: Committed to a Sustainable Future 

fall newsletter collage of three pictures and story titles

Connecticut has faced challenges related to sustainable landscapes, food and agriculture, health, and the climate for generations. As problems are solved, new issues arise. UConn Extension educators work in all 169 cities and towns of Connecticut to help solve the problems that our residents, communities, and state face. Connecting people with agriculture, the natural environment, and healthy lifestyles are critical components to a sustainable future. Extension works collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions that improve our communities for the next generation.

Read the fall newsletter.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds!

Written by UConn Dietetics Student Hannah Waxler

The Fall season brings to us a favorite squash!! Pumpkin! Did you know it’s a squash? Pumpkin and the spices that seem to flavor it best are added to just about everything: pumpkin coffee, pumpkin muffins, and of course, pumpkin pie! As delicious as pumpkin treats are, did you know that the seeds of a pumpkin can also be roasted and enjoyed?

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of many nutrients, including fiber, protein, magnesium, and potassium1. Pumpkin seeds can be seasoned in many ways and are delightfully crunchy when roasted, which makes them a great addition to salads, trail mixes and for a simple snack-in-a-handful!

Check out this simple way to make your own roasted pumpkin seeds:

  1. Get a pumpkin!
  2. Fill a large bowl with warm water
  3. Preheat oven to 275 degrees
  4. Wash your hands!
  5. Carefully, use a sharp knife to cut around the top of the pumpkin around the stem, and then pull on the stem to take off.
  6. Using a large spoon or your hands, pull all of the seeds out of the pumpkin and place the clumps of seeds directly into the bowl of water. This will get messy, but it’s fun! The stringy orange pulp in the pumpkin can be discarded when pulled out with the seeds.
  7. Use your hands to separate any remaining pumpkin pulp from the seeds in the bowl of water. The pulp will sink, and the seeds will float once in the water.
  8. Strain seeds out of the water with a colander, and pat the seeds dry with a paper towel.
  9. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Place cleaned and dried pumpkin seeds in a bowl. Now it is time to season them! This is the fun part!
  • For a sweet, pumpkin pie flavor, use equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  • For a savory flavor option, use equal parts salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin.
  • Use your own spice mixture as well!
  • Once seasonings sprinkled on, use your hands to mix seeds well.
  1. Lay seasoned pumpkin seeds out in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  2. Bake the seasoned pumpkin seeds for 30-35 minutes at 275 degrees. Every 15 minutes, carefully open the oven and using a spoon or pancake flipper, stir the seeds around so they are able to roast evenly.
  3. Once the seeds are lightly browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool on pan.
  4. Store the roasted pumpkin seeds in a sealed container at room temperature.

seeds coming out of carved pumpkin with kid looking on in background hand holding seeds in front of a pumpkin holding pumpkin seeds over bowl

There are many ways you can enjoy your toasted pumpkin seeds! A few ideas:

  • Sprinkle on top of a green salad
  • Add them into a trail mix or granola
  • Sprinkle on top of yogurt
  • Enjoy these crunchy treats on their own

Happy roasting!

pumpkin seeds on tray ready for roasting roasted pumkin seeds ready to eat

Citation:

  1. USDA https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/784459/nutrients. Accessed October 10, 2020.

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.